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Lights, Camera, Action!

Vizual Security was established in 2005, in response to a real need in the market for a truly holistic and fully integrated security services offering. Initially Vizual provided primary services including cleaning and hygiene, landscaping and garden services, as well as physical security and manned guarding. Then the founding members of Vizual Security identified a need in the property development and secure estate market for a unique security services offering that would present a fully integrated security solution, together with an attractive and affordable long-term financing model. This would benefit the developers of estates and in particular homeowners’ associations who find it challenging to raise finance for these bespoke projects.

The integrated offering Vizual Security derived, was a full security service which is implemented from the very inception of the development and provides a sustainable, transparent, holistic and affordable security package that can support the estate for many years. The homeowners’ association not only knows what it needs to budget for today, but also has a clear idea of what the budget will look like in five years’ time. This unique model was virtually unprecedented until Vizual Security came onto the scene, but the company has already gained a great deal of traction in the Western Cape, with an impressive number of contracts completed and many more in the pipeline.

“We get involved with the developers of the estate right from the time that the infrastructure planning takes place. That way we can implement our own communications infrastructure to ensure a reliable service,” says CEO Conan Cole. “By offering this concept to the developers, we are giving them the opportunity to work our security model into their finance plan and in turn sustain their costs through the homeowners’ infrastructure levy, or enhanced selling price of the property”

Setting up the system

Vizual Security sets out a complete security feasibility study for the entire estate, including a risk assessment within and beyond the perimeter to evaluate any potential risks in the surrounding area. Vizual Security will, for example, look at specific topographical features of the property’s location, such as water around the perimeter, whether the estate is set on a slope, and the type of landscape in which it is situated. The aim is to analyse what potential risks these physical aspects may present.

After a comprehensive risk assessment, the perimeter security is installed, along with the key access points and surveillance equipment. It is important to note that all Vizual Security installations are completed 100% by their own in-house team. Once the security infrastructure has been established and the necessary hardware installed, it is all supported by state-of-the art electronics. The analytics software used for the perimeter security, access control points and security surveillance is a key feature. Vizual Security invests a great deal of time in “training” the CCTV analytics software to recognise potential breaches in the system. Once the equipment has been “trained”, the analytics software won’t set off an alarm if the CCTV cameras pick up the image of, say, a bird. It will, however, activate an alarm if it detects a human intruder breaching the perimeter. That is why the learning period is so significant. This system works particulary well in conjunction with the latest state-of-the-art thermal technology and CCTV cameras.

All estates secured by Vizual Security are monitored from the company’s state-of-the art Intelligence Centre which is backed by a fully functional standby Intelligence Centre, and serves as a form of redundancy to the main Intelligence centre. The human element plays a key role in security and during the implementation phase of the system, a mini control room is established inside the security guardhouse. The estate manager has viewing rights as well, but the heart of the security system essentially lies at Vizual Security’s off-site Intelligence Centre. Here highly trained personnel who are qualified to recognise threats and act on them immediately, are able to notify the estate’s security supervisor along with a standby reaction team to respond to these threats. Vizual Security’s use of the most advanced technology allows for potential threats or breaches in the perimeter to be dealt with immedialtly. . This will alert the operator, who then verifies what has occurred and notifies the site supervisor, security manager and reaction team, depending on what is required. The sytem allows the operator to follow the incident in the field of view and guide the reaction team to the point of interest.

Manned guarding is one aspect of the integrated security model that cannot be underestimated. Alongside electronic security systems there are human security personnel engaged in monitored guard patrols, access control and surveillance. The quality of the personnel is of paramount importance, because security officers guarding an estate not only interact with residents daily, but are often the first point of contact for visitors.

The security officers must be well-spoken, polite and presentable. In addition to undergoing vital training courses as approved by South Africa’s Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority, it is mandatory that prior to deployment, all personnel undergo client and site specific training at the Vizual Training Academy. Training modules are compiled to deliver an outcome based result to meet site specific requirements and contractual obligations. Residential Estate Training focuses specifically on frontline communication, public ambassador etiquette and public relations whilst ensuring high levels of security intelligence, vigilance and public safety.

“It’s important to recognise that security is site-specific as well, which means that different estates may request different options,” says Conan Cole. “Therefore our security officers are trained to manage access by visitors to the estate quite differently from how they manage access by contractors and domestic workers who need to enter the estate every day, it is key for all parties to clearly understand who is on the estate at any point in time to manage the risk.”

The Vizual Security services offering for a given estate is contained in a detailed service level agreement, which sets out the entire service offering for the clients. Unique to Vizual Electronics is our Project Charter which covers the full implementation plan, the timeframes required to meet deadlines and the total cost of the project. This agreement is a vital part of the company’s contract with the developers, and it is unique to Vizual Security, this curbs the potential for any project cost overuns and unnecessary delays.

“What makes us different is that we also provide a forecast of what the costs will be in years to come, when the security system or parts of it need to be replaced or upgraded,” says Conan. “We were first to market with this offering. Not only does it help the developer, it is vitally important to the homeowners’ association as well, because it actually allows them to budget accurately for future security maintenance and upgrades to stay current technologically. This gives them an enormous advantage when calculating the composition of the monthly levy.”

With its impressive communications infrastructure network, world-class intelligence centre and years of expertise in one of the most competitive industries in South Africa today, Vizual Security is a privately owned, 100% legally and industry compliant, security services provider that is meeting every customer’s unique needs. Vizual Security looks set to continue making waves in the Western Cape development market, with its integrated estate security model. For now, the company’s management team seems content to focus on the opportunities close to home – but who knows what the future holds?

This article was originally published on Estate Living